SPORTS w/The Jock – July 30

by Tom Weppel
And so here we are! Time for the start of the Jaguars’ Training Camp! Jacksonville, along with the other 31 NFL teams, will be getting into full practice sessions as they prepare for the 2010 regular season.
As with every other Training Camp, this one will be filled with a lot of competition within the team itself, all for a chance to play, and even start, for Jack Del Rio and his squad. There are a number of new faces that have been brought in, thru free agency and the Draft, all with the intent to improve the group the Jaguars finished with last year…a team that lost their last four straight games on the way to a 7-9 record.
There are many questions…even doubts…surrounding this Jaguar outfit, both on and off the field.
Let’s start with the Head Coach. Jack Del Rio has been here now for seven years. His record as leader of the Jags is 57-55 overall. There are quite a few who are wondering whether Del Rio is a) as good as Coughlin was, and b) even worthy of still being here as Head Coach. Let’s face it…12-20 over the last two seasons won’t sell many regular season tickets.
And so the doubts are broiling, all with a careful eye on the California guy with the blond hair manning the sidelines. It will be quite interesting to see what he can and will do with the group of guys GM Gene Smith has assembled for him.
To gear up for this season and Training Camp, the Jags addressed a number of areas. Here are just a few…
DEFENSIVE LINE – Gone is John Henderson, who has been an anchor on the D-line for a number of years. While he will be missed, the Jags did their best to bring in a healthy corps of linemen. Sooner or later, first-round pick Tyson Alualu will be signed and brought in to Camp. Look for him to see a lot of time on the field as part of an interior rotation that will feature Terrance Knighton, Atiyyah Ellison, D’Anthony Smith, and others. On the outside, look for the progress of veteran newcomer Aaron Kampman to do good things, along with Derrick Harvey and Julius Williams. There are a number of others who could emerge into the fold.
WIDE RECEIVER – The Jags allowed veteran Torry Holt to go (Patriots), but the Jaguars have at least eleven guys who are all vying for a couple of spots. Look for Mike Sims-Walker to start on one side. The Jags also brought in former Charger FA Kassim Osgood. After that, the competition should be fierce, yet entertaining. The names include Troy Williamson, Clarence Denmark, Jarett Dillard, Tiquan Underwood, and Nate Hughes. Obviously, QB David Garrard wants some great targets to throw to. Should be interesting to see how it all opens up.
There’s no question this team has been reshaped, courtesy of GM Gene Smith, from what former GM James Harris had tried to do. Obviously, some of his choices for personnel did not fare as well as we all would’ve liked. And so this second year under Smith should prove to be rather intriguing, for the team, the owner, the Head Coach…and you, the fans.
Welcome to Training Camp…enjoy!